After a disappointing 2023 season, the New York Yankees finished in fourth place in the American League East. It’s clear that the team is not happy with mediocrity. The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years. It’s a bitter pill for a team with a history of championships. As the offseason approaches, the Yankees are eager to update their team. And make a strong push for the World Series in 2024. In their quest for a comeback, the Yankees are exploring the possibility of signing free agents to add fresh talent and energy to their team. Here are five players who could make a big impact and help the team compete for the championship again:
Jordan Montgomery, LHP (Left-Handed Pitcher)
The Yankees drafted Jordan Montgomery in 2014, and he spent eight years with the team before they traded him to St. Louis in 2022. His departure was because of concerns about his fit in the playoff rotation. But Montgomery has since shown his ability as a playoff-worthy pitcher. With the freedom of free agency, the Yankees have the chance to bring him back. He could be a dependable mid-rotation starter behind top pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto, RHP (Right-Handed Pitcher)
Japanese sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto is creating a lot of interest in the MLB free-agent market. His remarkable performance in the Japan Pacific League, including winning the Cy Young award three times in a row, has elevated his status. The Yankees have already expressed their interest, with General Manager Brian Cashman scouting him in Japan. However, the Mets and Dodgers also show keen interest in Yamamoto, making the competition fierce. The high demand could mean a significant price, possibly over $200 million.
Jung Hoo Lee, OF (Outfielder)
The Yankees may find a hidden gem in South Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee, who is less well-known. Lee, who is only 25 years old, has already experienced great success in the KBO League. He was named MVP in 2022. Injuries prevented him from playing in more than 86 games during his 2023 season. He was still able to hit well and have a high OPS. Lee could play in center or left field, offering versatility and a more cost-effective option for a team with limited resources given the anticipated return of Aaron Judge to right field in 2024.
Cody Bellinger, OF (Outfielder)
Cody Bellinger, a former National League MVP, had a strong season with the Chicago Cubs in 2023. His impressive season included a career-high batting average, many doubles, home runs, and RBIs. Bellinger’s turnaround in Chicago was due to a fully healed injury in his right shoulder. His family ties to the Yankees, with his father Clay Bellinger having won two World Series rings in the team’s uniform, make New York an appealing destination for the 28-year-old outfielder. However, they will face tough competition from other teams, including the Giants, Padres, and Cubs.
Shohei Ohtani, OF/P/DH (Outfielder/Pitcher/Designated Hitter)
Shohei Ohtani is the star of the free-agent class, offering a unique combination of pitching and hitting abilities. While his injury will keep him from pitching next season, Ohtani’s batting statistics are impressive. Despite missing some games in 2023, he led the American League in several offensive categories. The idea of seeing Ohtani in the Yankees’ uniform is exciting, but his price tag may be very high, possibly reaching $500 million. While the Yankees can afford it, the question remains if they are willing to make such a big financial commitment.
As the Yankees aim to revive their championship hopes, these five free agents represent different ways to find success. While it’s unlikely that the Yankees will sign all of them due to financial considerations, each player offers a unique opportunity to strengthen the team and rekindle their pursuit of World Series glory in 2024. The offseason promises to be an exciting and important time for the team as they seek to reshape their future.